Thursday, March 31, 2005

Bush names trophy hunter to direct US Fish and Wildlilfe Service

Bush recently named Matthew J. Hogan, a big game trophy hunter and Safari Club lobbyist, to protect our nation's fish and wildlife. Lovely. The fox is guarding the hen house. No surpise, of course. Bush is all about maxium exploitation. What a fuck.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Seattle seagull and bride's party

I was in Seattle last week for the Wonder Women All-Girl (except for my brother) Welcome Party to welcome the lovely Anita into our family. She is my youngest son John's bride. They had a hasty wedding last spring when his company was called up for Iraq. As of yet, he hasn't gone. So that I don't get heady, I keep in mind that things could change in a second but so far, so good. The "real" wedding is planned for this July. It's all very exciting.

I arrived a day early so I went straight from the airport to my brother's office on Puget Sound. That's him showing me his latest project. He's a bio-mathematician and oceanographer. The next day, before the humans arrived, I threw a seagull French fry and photo party on the waterfront. I bought an order of fries at Ivar's, set my camera on continuous shoot, went out on the pier and waited. Seagulls hang out there all day waiting for handouts. One bird in particular set her sites on me and settled right in. I fed her fries with one hand while photographing her with the other. When Lee saw the photos, he thought I should make her my avatar. He said she exactly resembles me. Perhaps he has a point.

That's my daughter Asia on the left and my "new" daughter Anita on the right. I'm a lucky and very grateful person.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Schiavo case and Supreme Court nominations

While governor of Texas Bush signed the Advanced Directives Act, giving hospitals the right to remove life support in cases where there is no possibility of revival, when the family cannot pay, no matter what the family's wishes are. No appeals. Once the money ran out, he had no interest in the family or the patient. What's up? A poster at Me-fi cleared it all up for me:
"Given that the decision to uphold Michael Schiavo's custodial rights has been made in the federal judiciary, and since that decision was made against the express intentions of the Congress and the President, I think the stage is set now for a series of references to a judiciary out of step with American values. It'll be a lot easier to try to change the Senate's procedural rules on filibustering if people have the complex emotions associated with the Schiavo case near at hand.

I think the Republicans are using this poor woman as a chess piece in a bigger game. And that's unconscionable. Michael Schiavo should move his wife to Texas and declare bankruptcy. - Felix Betachat"
I should have guessed as much. I used to laugh at the "right wing lunatic fringe" assuming that because they're wingnuts they are stupid and irrelevent. When will I ever learn that there is method in their madness? They have no problem with public ridicule. Like the Pied Piper, they are on a roll.

Enough of this. I'm in Tonapah this weekend attending a convention. Gotta go. Keep questioning.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Not my decision

I watched some clips of Terri which seem to demonstrate that she is at least minimally conscious at times and then I am asked to decide whether she should live or die. This is absurd. This is not my decision. I agree wholeheartedly that hers is a heartbreaking situation but it's not up to me to chose her fate. And it's definitely not something I, as an American citizen, want my government butting into. Stop and think. It's not your decision either. Whatever you believe, however painful it is to watch, let it be. Consider yourself a religious, spiritual, compassionate or aware person? Butt out. Pray if you like. Write your own living will. It's sad, but let Terri and her family go.

If you're an anorexic learn from Terri's experience. She brought this on herself. Starving herself triggered the heart attack that left her in a vegetative state. Now Washington DC gallops to her rescue in a big show of "compassionate conservatism". No. These politicians are mere capitalizing on people's tragedy. It's a smary grab for the limelight. Jeb Bush is making political hay. Starry-eyed evangelicals are expecting him to break in and steal Terri away. Sad.

Imminent rapture

Isn't death supposed to be part of god's plan? Judging by the fervor of all these so-called religious people, death is the worst thing that can happen to somebody. Isn't Terri Schiavo supposed to "go to heaven" when she dies? Isn't that what's suppose to await all good Christians? Instead evangelicals hijacked the government and overruled her wishes, as bequeathed to her husband. They have violated one of their own sacred principles, the sanctity of marriage. They are not doing god's work. They are doing their own (political) work. If "Terri's" Law, stands, what's next? Bush is on a roll. Obviously, he believes the law is under his thumb. Why wouldn't he? He gets everything he wants. Terri is an incidental; a tid bit for the congregation; a way to bring little brother Jeb onto the bully pulpit. In fact there are rumors today that Jeb plans to rush the hospital and kidnap Terri if the courts don't appease the evangelical fever to keep Terri out of heaven. If he does that, perhaps he'll name her his vice president when he makes his move.

So what else is on the Bush agenda? The Arctic Wilderness is next. And Social Security. And Iran. And whatever. If Bush manages to install his judges on the Supreme Court, the last balance of power is gone. He has big plans for the everyone who doesn't agree with him, not just the Iraqis.

Sal added a fine link on the subject so if you're inclined read more about God's Plan here. Apparently it's all part of the "imminent Rapture".

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Big Brother's Little Puppet

The evangelicals claim they're doing god's work. They are doing their own. If it weren't for people prolonging Terri's life by artificial means, she'd have starved to death 15 years ago. Death is part of god's order. At this point, Terri is a puppet in the hands of ruthless politicians eager to keep their constituency happy. If dogs had a vote, these guys would be tossing meat from the congressional steps. They claim to be pro-life, but what they really are is pro-evangelical voter. If they actually were "pro-life", they'd direct their energy towards ending the war on Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have died since the US invasion. The number increases daily, yet these bleeding hearts spend their time rescuing a mascot. Even the President butted in. Bush claims he prefers to "err on the side of life" but he's a liar. He's merely playing to the choir.

It's all smoke and mirrors, like the gay marriage hysteria the right-wingers whipped up during the election. What is a very private affair is being used to distract us from real issues at hand such as Bush's attempt to invade the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, his plan to plunder Social Security and direct working American's paycheck to his buddies on Wall Street. The hawks would like nothing more than for us to forget about all the people being slaughtered in Iraq and the mushrooming debt they have stuck us with. The Republicans used to be about limiting government but now that they are in power they are working feverishly to expand the biggest, most invasive, expensive government in history. They are very dangerous men.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Speciesism and Terri Schiavo

This issue over Terri Schiavo has gotten way out of hand. President Bush has butted in; angry women slap duct tape on their mouths and picket and senators who should have their mouths taped shut strong arm the government to intervene. It's an alarming misuse of political power, speciesism and religious hypocracy. Forget that even Jesus said, "What you do unto the least of them you do unto Me". After the reporters are gone, these self-appointed defenders of a human vegetable peal off the tape, go home and eat flesh without batting a teary eye.

If they want to speak up for those that don't have a voice, speak up for the millions of animals and birds who are daily being stabbed, sliced and dismembered with they're still alive. Or demand that government stop killing innocent, able-bodied Iraqi women by the tens of thousands, women who know they are alive, women who have families to care for.

The irony is that Terri was an anorexic who starved herself to the point of death. That's why she is hopelessly brain damaged. Very sad. Very ironic. But it happened 15 years ago. Instead of trying to make her a poster child for right to life issues, why not simply share the story of her anorexia? Brains don't grow back but Terri's example could help others afflicted with eating disorders but her parents are way too selfish and self-righteous to tell the whole truth aboutTerri's condition.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Freedom's just another word for Alternative Energy

I am heartsick that congress has moved another step closer to sanctioning oil drilling in Alaska. We need to be free from oil. Cleaner, alternate technologies have been around for years but they still aren't available commercially. Why?

People minimize the environmental cost of ransacking the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, one of the last pristine wilderness areas on earth. They say drilling techniques have improved. Unfortunately, one of the laws of human nature is, "if it can be fucked it up, we will fuck it up." Okay. Nature will make the balance without consulting us humans. The prospect of drilling makes the Teamsters happy. Fair enough, but in spite of that, ANWAR's drop in bucket would only supply the state of Texas with oil for 9 years and that's without sharing with the rest of us. And it would do nothing to curb escalating gas prices, just like invading Iraq did nothing to keep fuel costs down. Remember when they told us it would?

Some say the issue is "oil shipping route independence." They point out that bringing oil to the West Coast from the north could save us a few trips through the Panama Canal. Nice sentiment but shipping route independence is not real independence. It's another fantasy. It doesn't matter which direction oil comes from. Using oil is the problem. Using oil deepens our already crippling dependency on oil. We must devote our attention, talent, time and resources towards developing alternative forms of energy.

Get real. Freedom in the twenty-first century will have to include freedom from oil.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Tucked in

It takes a little imagination to see the forest for the trees but you can do it if you try.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Trees in Birdland

I bought some cheapass trees and am planting them in the bird park. They will be big enough for the birds to enjoy in about 5 or 10 years. I did get the holes dug today though so things are moving right along. Maybe tomorrow I'll actually get them planted. They're going to be lovely.

Hey, while the trees are growing you've got time to run over and check out the Fifth Annual Bloggies. They were just announced today.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Sad story

I found this story at Animal Writings. It's very sad but instructional and one I think well worth the discomfort of reading it. It illustrates the little known side of elephant life.
Tyke never had a normal life. In the wild, she would be part of a close-knit herd. She would walk by her mother's side until well into her teens. The herd would be her family. She and the other members of the herd would eat, play, and take baths together, and protect each other from danger. They would roam over hundreds of acres of varied terrain, and sleep under African skies. When she got older, she would share in the child-rearing and have a calf of her own.

But Tyke never experienced any of that. She was trapped and taken away from her family when she was a baby. She was shipped to the circus. There, she was confined to a concrete room and beaten over and over, to break her spirit. Circus trainers hit her repeatedly with a sharp metal "bullhook," which made her cry out in pain. They struck her in her most sensitive areas: behind her ears, on top of her toes, in back of her knees, and around her anus. They wanted to hurt her and frighten her so she would be obedient.

She spent most of her time in chains, doing nothing. Her bones ached from no exercise. Her diet was monotonous. She stood in filth and excrement. She was deprived of every aspect of normal elephant life. She hated it.

She was in the Hawthorn circus, which had a track record of animal cruelty violations. In 1988, according to USDA documents, Tyke was beaten in public to the point where she was "screaming and bending down on three legs to avoid being hit." The trainer said he was "disciplining" her. By April of 1993, she had had enough. She tried to escape during a circus performance. She didn't make it. In July she tried to escape again; she was unsuccessful. Hawthorne should have retired her right then and there, as she was an obvious threat to the public. But they didn't.

For the next year she performed in the circus and lived in a barren concrete barn, chained, between shows. The bullhook beatings continued. Her life stank. She vacillated between terror and boredom. She was not really an elephant.

In August of 1994 Tyke reached a breaking point. She had been in the circus nearly 20 years. She was tired of being beaten, whipped, and kicked. She could no longer take the pain and the confinement. She was angry and wanted to be free. At an afternoon performance at the Neal Blaidsell Center in Honolulu, it all came to a head.

At some point during the show, she veered from the script. Circus staff tried to beat her back, but no bullhook or whip could stop the rage that had been building inside her for two decades. She crushed her trainer, Allen Campbell. She attacked two other people. She panicked the crowd. She ran into the streets. It was rush hour. She was disoriented and no idea where she was. She charged at bystanders and smashed cars as she made her way through several city blocks. Onlookers screamed. The police were called out and started shooting at Tyke with rifles.

She slowly fell over, then awkwardly stood back up. The police kept firing. Her head swayed, and her legs buckled. She got up again. The spray of bullets continued. She rocked her head violently from side to side. Her legs gave way once more. She was on her knees and could not right herself. Her eyes were fully open and confused. The shooting went on for several more seconds. Finally, she fell, very slowly, onto her side.

This was Tyke's final performance. The price of freedom from the circus was steep. She was shot 87 times.
For a few elephants, their circus life has a happy ending.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Magic pray rug and talk radio

I got a paper prayer rug in the mail today from a church. Their letter starts out, "Dear... Someone at This Address". I guess that's me. After all, I am someone. They explain that the rug is "anointed with God's holy power" but they're "loaning" it to me for ONE NIGHT ONLY. They said that I can trust that Jesus sees my needs because if I "stare at His eyes on the Church Prayer Rug, I'll notice they are closed but if I relax and continue looking straight into His eyes, I will see them slowly open and He will begin looking back at me." I tried it but His eyes didn't exactly open. They did turn into big, cool, blank zombie eyes though.

They promise that God is going to bless me spiritually, physically and financially if I do four simple things. First off, they want me to send the rug back first thing in the morning. God's a busy man and wants it back ASAP. The other thing I have to do, of course, is pray on the rug. It is prayer rug after all. The good news is that I don't actually have to get down on my knees. proof they are indeed wise men. They know most real true believers are obese. The instructions state that for the magic to work all I have to do is touch the paper to my knees. It has to be on both my knees, like a napkin I imagine, but how hard is that? Then I fold the rug up and slide it into my bible or under my bed and leave it there overnight. Good thing I can stash it under my bed while God does His Work because I don't have a bible. No matter my bed is just a mattress on the floor.. God can squeeze under it. He is God, after all. The fourth thing I have to do before I send it back to the church is be sure to fill out the questionnaire. I have to tell them where to tell God to direct His Blessing.

Oh, and they do want me to send them a little Seed Gift to show my gratitude for God's Work, of course, but I decided against it. You can't be too careful these days. After all, so many religious groups are terrorist network in disguise. Instead, I changed the Church's eagle logo on their envelope so that now he is shitting bombs. Given that terrorists and evangelicals are cut from the same cloth, seems about right. I'm sure they'll appreciate my gift and the fact that I didn't risk sending dough to bad people.

The God Squad is everywhere these days. Flipping through radio stations recently, I caught the last few minutes of a caller complaining about people who support both abortion rights and animal rights. She just can't get her head around it and writes us off as troubling heathens who shamelessly prefer dirty animals to human babies. Another boob from the rights are only for humans bunch. She probably eats eggs (embryos) and occasionally downs a tasty veal or lamb cutlet (baby flesh) and votes for 3 strike legislation to imprison those same, precious babies when they start acting out in the hood. Well lil' lady, I suppose I am a heathen. I don't respect scriptures, philosophies or people that celebrate human or animal sacrifice (including the crucifixion of your Lamb). I also pity the star struck martyrs playing "holy" war (whether Armageddon or Jihad). They aren't "saints". They're brainwashed glory seekers. I, for one, am sick of being dragged along in this arcane argument between a bunch of Middle Eastern pundits (Christians, Jews and Muslims) arguing their blood soaked politico-religion. Screw the whole lot.

I do support abortion rights and animal rights. I also spay and neuter my pets. I am a half-baked vegetarian (30+ years) who eats dairy and eggs although, unlike you, I am very disturbed by the terrible ways dairy cows and chickens suffer at our hands. I don't think it's right or necessary. I don't eat meat. I have non-negotiable objections to the way animals are raised and killed for the meat market. How about eat soy, live and let live.

Monday, March 7, 2005

Popcorn party

I threw a popcorn party in the bird park today.

News spred fast. Crows love to party. Pigeons too.

Sunday, March 6, 2005

Spring and molting

I hate beginning with "I" but that's where I am at tonight, in my head, mulling things over. I've been getting rid of more clutter; books, furniture, clothes, points of view, expectations, resistance. Everything is under review, not just because it's spring, although spring always drives me out of my mind, but because it's time. Everybody knows when it's time.

It took me a long time to get one thing straight. I can't put into words exactly what that was but since then I compare everything to it and that's what I'm going on now. The latest things to go were the poems on my website. They were among the least viewed pages anyway so I doubt they'll be missed. I'm going to start submitting them, like everyone else does, to those obscure poety mags no one has ever heard of, including me. If one gets published, I'll repost it but not until then. It's a good day. I am making peace with a certain irrevocable sense of loss that is bitter as it is sweet.

Thursday, March 3, 2005

Here's to you, Bubba.

However sentimental people may be about Muffy, proud of Rex, or vindicated rooting for the underdog, the idea of animal rights for the masses is generally considered weird or silly. On matters of life and death and what's for dinner, the minister, rabbi, priest or mullah have final say. That means the members of other species are shit out of luck.
Bubba the Leviathan Lobster, as he was called, died today before making it to an aquarium at a Ripley's Believe It or Not museum. His size generated enough interest and support that he escaped the grim fate of lobsters that fall into human hands. PETA (People for the Eating of Tasty Animals) battled PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and kindness won the day. But Bubba died anyway. They don't know why. My guess...fear. Is that better than being boiled alive? Here's to you Bubba and all the others.

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Keep US courts democratic

This week the senate is debating the judicial nomination of William Myers III. He's a career cattle and mining industry lobbyist who is now up for a lifetime appointment to the 4th District Appeals Court. He's just one of Bush's 20 judicial nominees that Democrats rejected last term, (compared to over 200 they approved). But Bush is still fighting hard to make sure every single one gets confirmed.

These 20 judges were singled out because they consistently picked corporate interests over basic rights, and want to roll back decades of progress on anti-discrimination, women's rights, worker's rights, and the environment. If we don't act now to support a real opposition, these corporate judges will be given lifetime appointments to lock in Bush's ultra conservative ideology for decades.

Plus, the Bush administration has threatened to use this fight to take away the Senate Democrat's ability to resists any future judges, including Supreme Court nominees.

MoveOn has started a petition calling on our Senators to stand firm against Myers and all 20 of these rejected corporate nominees, and to fight any manipulation of the rules to force them through.

Please join me in signing today.